ANDOVER — The School Committee will meet in private session on Thursday night to discuss an Open Meeting Law complaint filed by a parent who has been a vocal advocate of special education services in the district.
Jeanne Teichert, wife of newly elected School Committee member Ted Teichert, filed a complaint last month alleging that the board violated the state’s Open Meeting Law.
The complaint lists alleged violations dating back to November, all of which encompass a period before Ted Teichert was elected to the School Committee on March 24. Ted Teichert had been on the committee just 10 days when the complaint was filed with the town clerk’s office on April 3.
Four of the alleged violations described in the complaint concern the minutes of School Committee meetings, including the detail and accuracy of the minutes, the timeliness of their approval and release, and their approval “without any discussion of my concerns or suggestion of amendments.”
“Therefore I believe this violation was intentional,” Jeanne Teichert wrote.
The complaint also alleges that incomplete agendas were posted in advance of School Committee workshops, and that these sessions were not video recorded.
In the complaint, Jeanne Teichert listed five actions she would like the School Committee to take moving forward, including:
Approval of any outstanding minutes of meetings in a timely manner.
Adoption of a best practice of posting accurate, detailed agendas for all meetings, including “workshops.”
Ensuring greater public access for all meetings by video recording and televising every meeting.
The amendment of minutes from a Dec. 18, 2014, meeting to “accurately reflect the discussion that took place.”
Several attempts to reach Jeanne Teichert for comment were not returned before deadline.
School Committee Chairman Annie Gilbert said that not all Open Meeting Law complaints received by the board are reviewed in executive, or closed-door, sessions, though this situation is different. She said that because the complaint delves into private and confidential discussions that occurred in executive session, complaints regarding them need to be discussed in private as well.
Gilbert said that she contacted Ted Teichert before scheduling the meeting and asked him if he wanted to take part, “given the complaint was from his wife.”
“He said he’d think about it, then later called me and said he sought guidance from the state Ethics Commission and felt that he could be impartial and would file a written disclosure beforehand,” Gilbert said. “No member can be told to recuse themselves. It’s up to a member to decide on their own.”
Jeanne Teichert, a member of the Special Education Parent Advisory Council, filed the complaint just days after SEPAC’s leadership board, called the Executive Council, publicly endorsed both Ted Teichert and David Birnbach for two full-term School Committee seats in the March 24 town election.
The endorsements concerned some members of the School Committee and Parent Teacher Organizations, who questioned its appropriateness.
On Thursday, April 9, the topic was discussed openly at a School Committee meeting.
Thursday’s executive-session discussion will start at 6 p.m. in the School Committee room, located on the second floor of the Town Offices building on Bartlet Street. The regular meeting of the School Committee will follow at 7 p.m.
The School Committee will also be updating the public on several searches for key administrators during the meeting.
The search for a new Andover High School principal to replace Steve Murray, who announced his resignation, effective June 30, last week, as well the search for a principal to replace retiring Bancroft Elementary School Principal Malcolm Forsman will be on the agenda.
Updates on searches for an interim superintendent to take over for retiring Marinel McGrath, who steps down in July, and a temporary director of student services, following an unsuccessful search for a permanent director, will also be given.